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Travel and pregnancy

6-minute read

Is it safe to travel during pregnancy?

Planning ahead can make travel safer for you during your pregnancy. The second trimester (weeks 13 to 26) is the best time to travel as the risk of pregnancy complications is the lowest. Travel by air, sea, road or rail are all possible, including international travel, although some types of travel may be restricted towards the end of your pregnancy. If you have pregnancy complications, it may not be safe for you to travel. Your doctor or midwife can offer you advice, based on your personal and medical circumstance.

If you are travelling internationally, you may be at increased risk of infectious diseases, including COVID-19. You can check the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19, as well as the vaccination and testing requirements for international travel, on Smartraveller.

What should I do if I plan to travel during pregnancy?

Travel during pregnancy requires planning. Your doctor or midwife can help you decide whether it is safe for you to travel and if there are any specific precautions you should take. If you do decide to travel, it’s a good idea to take a copy of your medical records with you, in case you need them while you’re away.

Before you travel, find out about healthcare services for pregnant women near where you will be staying. You should check that your travel insurance covers you for your travel destination, stage of pregnancy, and any pre-existing health conditions.

Is air travel safe during pregnancy?

Air travel increases the risk of a blood clot (deep vein thrombosis, or DVT) forming in your leg. During pregnancy the likelihood of this occurring is increased due to changes in your blood flow and circulation. For this reason, it is recommended that you check with your doctor whether it’s safe for you to fly.

You can reduce the risk of a blood clot by staying hydrated, not wearing restrictive clothing (such as tight underwear), wearing compression stockings and by taking regular walks or stretching during your flight. The risk of a blood clot forming in your legs remains high for 2 weeks after your flight.

Some airlines do not allow pregnant women to fly after a certain week of pregnancy, and the rules may be different for international travel, so you should check with your airline before you book. You may also need a letter from your doctor confirming that it is safe for you to travel.

Can I have vaccinations before I travel?

Some vaccinations are safe and routinely recommended for pregnant women, such as the influenza (flu) vaccine and the whooping cough vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine is also safe for pregnant women and is recommended during pregnancy if you are not already fully vaccinated. Other vaccines might not be suitable during pregnancy. You can check which vaccinations are recommended for your destination on Smartraveller, and discuss with your doctor which vaccines you can have while you’re pregnant.

Malaria is an infection carried by mosquitos in some parts of the world. Pregnant women who become infected with malaria are more likely to have a miscarriage, premature labour or stillbirth. If you are pregnant, you should consider delaying travel to countries where malaria is a problem until after your baby is born. You can check if malaria is a risk at your destination on Smartraveller.

Zika virus is also spread by mosquitos and can be very dangerous for your unborn baby. If you are pregnant, you should not travel to an area with Zika virus. You can check Smartraveller to see if the country you plan to visit has a high risk of Zika virus. . If you are pregnant, you should not have unprotected sex with someone who has been in an area with Zika virus or who has been diagnosed with Zika virus in the last 3 months.

How do I stay safe when travelling by car or train?

Travelling by car or train can mean sitting in your seat for a long time. This can be uncomfortable for your legs and back, and can increase your risk of a blood clot in your legs. To make yourself more comfortable, and to decrease the risk of a blood clot, try to move around and stretch your knees and ankles frequently during the journey. If you are travelling by car, stop and take a break at least every 2 hours, and if you are on a train, walk through the carriage to move around.

Travelling can sometimes lead to motion sickness. You may prefer to plan trips for the second trimester of your pregnancy when nausea and vomiting are less common. If you need travel sickness medicines, check with your doctor as not all options are safe for pregnancy.

Do I have to wear a seatbelt if I’m pregnant?

If you are pregnant, you should continue to wear your seatbelt when travelling by car or bus. The lap sash of the belt should go around your hips and under your stomach. The shoulder strap should pass above your stomach and between your breasts. If you are in a car accident when pregnant, see a doctor or midwife as soon as you are able to check for complications, even if you feel fine.

Are there any foods or drinks I should avoid when travelling?

Depending on where you are travelling to, you may be at risk of experiencing diarrhoea which can be particularly serious for pregnant women. If there is any concern about the safety of the water, use bottled water, including for brushing your teeth and making ice. If bottled water is not available, you can boil water for 5 minutes or use chlorine-based tables to treat the water. Iodine-based water treatment systems are not recommended for pregnant woman as the iodine can affect your baby’s development.

Try to eat food that has been freshly prepared, and avoid raw or undercooked foods which may contain bacteria. Soft cheeses, unpasteurised milk products and salads may also contain harmful bacteria and should not be eaten during pregnancy.

Food aversions are common during pregnancy, and wherever you are, you should try to maintain a healthy diet which includes plenty of water to keep you hydrated. Avoid drinking alcohol, as there is no safe level of drinking during pregnancy.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: March 2022


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Pregnancy and travel - Better Health Channel

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The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

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